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At last 

Finally, something to be optimistic about.

As we head to the polls in the run-up to the Nov. 8 election, it's understandable if we occasionally feel helpless. In the General Assembly, our most cynical fears were confirmed when The N&O revealed that a close aide to Democratic House Speaker Jim Black was on a lottery company's payroll. In Raleigh, a candidate we supported (Joyce Kekas) voted for a 42-story tower at Crabtree Valley without a trace of public discussion. In Orange County, the county school board is playing politics and sacrificing student needs with its opposition to a district tax. And in Durham, there's that matter of all the candidates with criminal records (and bad memories).

Nationally, we've endured an administration that has taken us to war, favored the rich (particularly their friends), put corporate over public interest, and tried to undo a generation of progress in helping the poor and protecting the environment--even though it was elected by the barest of majorities (if that).

A rising chorus of Americans have been saying they're dissatisfied, but most of our representatives have been too scared to listen. When 57 percent of North Carolinians--and 56 percent of those with a military affiliation--say they disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the war in Iraq, it's hard to understand why a Democratic presidential hopeful isn't demanding an exit strategy. Even our own U.S. Reps. David Price and Brad Miller have done that.

So it was exhilarating to see Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) step up Tuesday and finally put the Republican Congress and the administration on notice that a majority of Americans are fed up with their calculated lies and vicious tactics. Reid forced the Senate into secret session and demanded completion of an investigation into whether the administration twisted intelligence to convince Americans that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Behind that is the critical question: Were manufactured lies responsible for starting a war that has killed more than 2,000 Americans, injured another 15,000, killed or injured tens of thousands of Iraqis, wasted billions of dollars and left Iraq more dangerous than it was under Saddam?

Reid's move followed the indictment last week of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for lying to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. The indictment included evidence that Cheney was a link in the chain that led to the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame in retribution for her husband's criticism of the administration for using discredited intelligence to sell the war. That, too, was part of the effort to sell the war and squelch its critics.

Reid restores hope that your vote can make a difference. So go to the polls this week, and start getting ready for 2006.

More by Richard Hart

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